Panasonic Puts the Ultra in 4K Blu-Ray Playback

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association) convention in Antwerp, Belgium. At this annual event, magazine editors from around the globe are given the chance to preview new audio, video, and digital photography products, many of which are yet to hit the market. For me, a highlight of the event was a demo of Panasonic’s DP-UB9000, a flagship Ultra HD Blu-ray player designed for high-performance video and audio playback.

The UB9000’s video features include Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support. It also performs chroma upsampling on Ultra HD Blu-rays, which are mastered using 4:2:0 color subsampling, to 4:4:4 color output using multitap processing for extended chroma frequency response and smoother color rendering. Another key feature of the UB9000 is its HDR Optimiser. Using this, you select the approximate maximum brightness capabilities of your display (500, 1000, or 1500 nits) and the Optimizer performs internal tone mapping of the HDR signal so your set then only has to carry out minimal processing. (The feature gets disabled when Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content, both of which use dynamic HDR metadata, is displayed on a compatible TV.) In a comparative demo, the player’s tone mapping delivered better highlight detail and a more subtle color range when viewing the same HDR content tone-mapped by one of Panasonic’s own Ultra HDTVs.

On the audio side, Panasonic’s player features a rigid dual-layer chassis and separate power supplies for audio and video circuits. Digital-to-analog conversion is carried out using an AK4493 32-bit/768kHz DAC that delivers a -10dB noise floor reduction over Panasonic’s previous model, the UB900. The company is also claiming a significant reduction in jitter noise when the player’s HDMI output is used for audio.

While the DP-UB9000 is scheduled to arrive in Europe this October for around €1,000, Panasonic hasn’t yet determined if the player will be sold in the U.S. Here’s hoping it is: With Oppo Digital’s departure from player manufacturing, there will be a gap for high-performance Ultra HD players that address the needs of both videophiles and audiophiles. Fortunately, the UB9000’s chroma upsampling and HDR Optimiser features will be available in other models the company is releasing in the U.S. this summer, including the UB820 ($499). Sound & Vision is currently working on a review of the UB820, so keep an eye out for it in a future issue.

brenro's picture

Why is Panasonic avoiding the US with so many of their products? Even Canada gets their OLED TV's.

drny's picture

Before Sony made in roads in the U.S. in the 80s it was Panasonic/Technics
that introduce U.S. consumer to Japanese electronics in the late 60s and 70s.
Fast forward to 2008. Panasonic took a gamble and replaced Pioneer as the premier Plasma Display manufacturer. By 2011 Samsung LCDs bottom dollar pricing made Plasmas obsolete, as the manufacturing cost were doubled of LCD. Panasonic took a huge investment capital loss, and image lost. Enter LG OLED 2013. Panasonic had being number two to Sony's number one market position in household electronics for forty years.
By 2015 these Japanese companies took the back seat to Samsung and LG, Korean companies. Mainly due to the fact that the quality to dollars ratio having been surpassed by LG and Samsung
In 2015 Panasonic decided to limit their higher end products to less competitive markets with higher price points, i.e Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia.

Present day 2018, Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic are now looking behind them and seeing the Giant (China) gunning for them.
I highly suspect that by 2025 the Video display market will look quite different.

Deus02's picture

Well, Panasonic is not the only one that is avoiding the Sharp is back in the game with higher end monitors and so is Phillips, in which, at this point anyway, they are confining their marketing and sales to the European/Asian markets and seem to be avoiding the N/A market altogether. The Phillips OLED sets, in particular, are getting excellent reviews.

Panasonic OLEDs are great sets, but, for some reason, in Canada have priced them significantly higher than the LG, Sony OLEDs and Samsung brands so competition with the others even in the markets they do sell, does not seem to be a part of their marketing equation. For some reason they have chosen to set higher price points for their sets and whether that changes or not with the 2018 models remains to be seen. I would love to buy one of their OLEDs, but, the price differential is too much, especially, since all the brands offering OLED models are using LG panels anyway.

I have a Panasonic UB900 which is and excellent player and I kept my Oppo 105 on my rack for SACDs and DVD audio discs, so, for me, that is not a factor. The UB900 is an excellent player(which I own) and I certainly would be interested in the UB9000, or even the 820, especially now that Oppo is out of the game.

For me, after purchasing several Oppo players over the years, the lack of streaming services, ultimately was the deciding factor in me making the change to the Panasonic and that could have been one issue in less sales for the new Oppo players resulting in them shutting it down. I know one thing, projector owners were not particularly happy since it meant having to buy an additional piece of equipment(Roku, Amazon, etc.) for streaming services.

Robert Zohn's picture

I believe we will see the UB9000 and UB820 in the USA.

mlknez's picture

You compare this to the high-end oppo devices like the 205. Does it have multiple analog outs so that the DACs can play multichannel audio? Does it play .iso and .mkv files of UHD, SACD and DVD-Audio? Is the user interface like a good graphic view with cover art or just file system text based?

Al Griffin's picture
is featured. Also has balanced stereo analog outputs. No support for SACD or DVD-Audio.
mlknez's picture

Do you have a picture of the back of the unit?

Al Griffin's picture
you can see some of the connectors on the unit's back in the second photo. Do a Google image search on Panasonic DP-UB9000 and you'll find a better one.
mlknez's picture

The ports are not labeled but there are no USB-B ports and I am assuming that both HDMI ports are outputs. This indicates that the only way that you can use the DAC in this device from an external source is via ethernet. This means that it cannot equate to the Oppo in it's ability to be used as an external DAC to other devices such as a computer. It still cannot compare to the Oppo devices as it cannot do MLP nor SACD.

hk2000's picture

Really, people who are complaining about DAC functions, or lack thereof, in UHD BD players, need to stop! If you're well enough off to afford the Oppo 205, you should have a hell of a setup to start with, which negates the need for your player being the centerpiece of your audio gear. If you're using a run of the mill receiver, then maybe you should consider the Sony 700, which does play SACDs. I have the Oppo 203, and I feel I overpaid- it does put out a great picture, but I don't feel it's 1080P upscaling is much better than the TV's own upscaling.

talkaboutsv's picture

I will read reviews very carefully for USABILITY of the UB820 model when it comes out. So very sick of my Sony X800 that sleeps after 15 minutes, often resulting in a full disc reboot! (No, there is no setting to disable it)

Deus02's picture

I own a Panasonic UB900 so assume whatever operating features are on the 820 or 9000 will, no doubt, be similar. For the record, when there is no disc in the machine and when it is sitting idle, the unit automatically shuts off after twenty minutes. When it is on-line and in streaming mode(Netflix, Youtube etc.), when sitting idle, there is a screen saver mode it enters after awhile, however, after the touch of one button will bring back whatever you are looking immediately. In this case the machine stays on indefinitely.

There are two options for loading speed which one can set-up in the menu. Lots of other options, however, when it comes to 1080p upscaling and HDR reproduction the options to improve the picture in HDR mode when one does not have an HDR/Dolby Vision compatible television, are about as good as it gets and the reviews I have seen comparing the 900 to the Oppo 203 were very favorable. The only feature it lacked was Dolby Vision which these newer units are incorporating along with all the other HDR formats. I had TWO LG units and sent them back because they were much too noisy. The faster spinning 4K discs in the UB900 are very quiet and from what I have seen, build quality is superior to any of the other mainstream units as well.

After years of owning Oppo units, and after almost a year of usage with the 900, I can safely conclude that I will have no problem purchasing the 820 or even the 9000 should it become available.

Robert Zohn's picture

Well, I am very happy to report that we'll be bring in the DP-UB9000 for USA distribution!

Literally one moment ago Panasonic confirmed my 1st and 2nd allocations for the UB9000! Early December for the 1st allotment and one month later for each additional shipment.